I consider myself a true American because I was born here and am a mixture of many races and cultures. My dad has some Panamanian and Scottish in his heritage, spent a lot of time in Jamaica growing up (where we still have relatives) and we just found out there IS some Indian in my distant background from my Great-Aunt Maisie. My mom is all Italian-American. My mom's mom "nanny" spoke Italian although I only ever heard the "bad" words. ;-) I grew up waking every Sunday to the smell of my mom's homemade sauce. It wasn't until I went to college and was sick of eating Ramen noodles and cafeteria food that I called up my mom to get a play by play on how to make some of my Italian favorites; chicken cacciatore, meatballs, bracciole, lasagna....mmmm. After college I was able to give myself credit as a very good Italian cook with TONS of my own recipes but I definitely wanted to learn more.
As mentioned, because of being raised in NY I was exposed to lots of ethnic foods. (Sorry mom and dad for begging for Chinese food and only ordering white rice and wonton soup with the green things taken out for so many years). I grew up enjoying Mexican, Indian, Thai, Japanese and many other types of food but only ever knew how to cook traditional American and Italian meals. When I lived in NJ one of my closest friends, Aneeta was Indian and taught me a couple of recipes. I can now make an awesome curry chicken and samosas. I recommend trying out many different ethnic foods if you have restaurants in your area. If not, there are tons of recipe sites online that offer many different ethnic recipes. I recommend all recipes.com for their World Cuisine section of recipes -- this site has great pictures and instructions for preparing.
I have to credit my father for introducing me to many different cultures of music while I was growing up. He has always been into world music and has had extensive collections. I enjoy MOST types of music. I think it is fascinating to learn what is traditional music for a country. I LOVE bhangra music and also enjoy Spanish, Irish, African, Pygmy and just about any other nationality or genre. World Music is a wonderful place to listen to different world music or watch videos. The video below is for my one of my favorite songs off of the Deep Forest CD which is chants of Pygmies mixed with a new age beat. This CD is still one of my favorites 10 years later and is amazing to relax to.